Americans are good at salads. Salad in the States doesn’t really mean ‘greens’. It means a big plate with a combination of tastes, textures and temperatures – fresh fruit; raw vegetables; salad leaves; a protein; something crisp.
More importantly, Americans understand how to bring all of these elements together with a dressing, be it poppyseed and peach, Thousand Island (good in its own retro way) or a simple, buttermilk-based ranch – which overtook Italian as the nation’s favourite dressing in 1992.
With these two themes in mind, I decided to make a honey & fennel-seed chicken, sweetcorn, apple and grilled bread salad, along with a ranch dressing from The Huffington Post.
It’s certainly a lovely recipe – try it with crudités too, or alongside homemade breadsticks. Since we Irish aren’t so good at salads, it probably is, as The Huffington Post boldly asserts, ‘The Only Ranch Dressing Recipe You Will Ever Need’.
BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING
Since the weather is so mild at the moment (a steamy 17 degrees yesterday) and the shops still have fresh sweetcorn, this would make a nice dinner before winter properly sets in. If you have any dressing left, keep it in its jam jar in the fridge for a few days.
1/2 –3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2-3 tbsp sour cream
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise
1tbsp finely chopped parsley, coriander, chives…
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1/2 tsp dijon mustard (optional – I don’t think I remembered to use it in mine)
A few dashes of Tabasco or similar hot, slightly sour sauce
Salt and pepper to season
Combine all the ingredients in a jam jar with a lid, shake it and taste. Season, put the lid on again and shake again. If you want it a little stiffer add more mayonnaise; if you want it a bit looser add some more buttermilk. As Huffington Post notes, this dressing is ‘endlessly customizable’ – try it with smoked paprika, lemon zest, diced celery leaf…
As for the salad, mine has a warm roast chicken breast (with a honey, soy and fennel seed glaze), sweetcorn steamed in its skin in the oven and cut from the cob, slices of sharp-sweet apple, some roasted rose hips, torn ciabatta which was drizzled with olive oil and grilled and fresh herbs and salad leaves.
On the subject of ‘Buttermilk‘….